It Is the Lord’s Divine Nature That Makes Heaven (Continued)

Spirits who during their earthly lives had convinced themselves that they were the sources of the good they did and the truth they believed, or who had claimed these virtues as their own, are not accepted into heaven. This is the belief of all those who place merit in good deeds and claim to be righteous.

Angels avoid them. They regard them as stupid and as thieves—stupid because they are constantly looking at themselves and not at the Divine, and thieves because they take from the Lord what is actually his. They stand in opposition to heaven’s belief that the Lord’s divine nature in angels is what makes heaven.

If people are in heaven or in the church, they are in the Lord and the Lord is in them. This is what the Lord taught when he said, “Abide in me, and I in you; as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them will bear much fruit; because without me you can do nothing” (John 15:4–7).

This allows us finally to conclude that the Lord dwells in angels in what belongs to himself, and therefore that the Lord is the sum and substance of heaven. This is because the good from the Lord is the Lord within and among them, since what comes from him is himself. Accordingly, the good from the Lord, and not anything of their own, is heaven for angels.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 10-12

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It Is the Lord’s Divine Nature That Makes Heaven (Continued)

In their wisdom, angels press on even further. They say that it is not just everything good and true that comes from the Lord, but every bit of life as well. They support this by pointing out that nothing can come into being from itself. Everything presupposes something prior. This means that everything has come into being from a First, which they call the essential reality of the life of everything. Everything endures in the same way, too, because enduring is a constant coming into being. If anything were not kept in constant connection with the First, through intermediate means, it would instantly collapse and disintegrate. They add that there is only one single wellspring of life, with human life as one stream flowing from it. If it were not constantly supplied from its wellspring, it would immediately peter out.

Still further, they say that nothing flows from that unique wellspring of life, the Lord, that is not divinely good and divinely true. These affect every individual according to the way they are accepted. People who accept them into their faith and life are in heaven, while people who reject or stifle them transform them into hell. They actually change what is good into evil and what is true into falsity—life into death.

Angels also support their belief that the Lord is the source of every bit of life by observing that everything in the universe goes back to what is good and true. Our volitional life, the life of our love, goes back to what is good, while our cognitive life, the life of our faith, goes back to what is true. Since everything good and true comes to us from above, it follows that this is the source of all of our life.

Because angels believe this, they decline any thanks offered them for the good they do. In fact they feel hurt and withdraw if anyone gives them credit for anything good. It bewilders them to discover that people can believe they are wise on their own or do good on their own. Doing good for one’s own sake, in their language, cannot be called “good,” because it stems from self. Doing good for its own sake is what they call “good from the Divine.” This, they say, is the kind of good that makes heaven, because this kind of good is the Lord.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 9

It Is the Lord’s Divine Nature That Makes Heaven

WHILE we call the total assemblage of angels heaven because they do make it up, what really makes heaven overall and in every specific instance is the divine nature that emanates from the Lord, flowing into angels and accepted by them. The divine nature that emanates from the Lord is the good intrinsic to love and the truth intrinsic to faith. The amount angels accept from the Lord of what is good and what is true determines the extent to which they are angels and are heaven.

Everyone in the heavens knows, believes, and even perceives that nothing good is intended and done by the self and that nothing true is thought and believed by the self. Everything comes from the Divine, which means from the Lord. Anything good and true from the self is not good or true, because there is no life from the Divine within it. Angels of the central heaven perceive and feel the inflow distinctly. The more they accept, the more they seem to be in heaven, because they are more fully absorbed in love and faith, in the light of intelligence and wisdom, and in the heavenly joy that results. Once we see that all these qualities emanate from the Lord’s divine nature, we can see that the Lord’s divine nature makes heaven. It is not anything the angels do with a sense of ownership.

This is why in the Word heaven is called the Lord’s dwelling and his throne. It is why the people who live there are described as being “in the Lord.”b We will explain later how the divine emanates from the Lord and fills heaven.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 7, 8

What the World of Spirits Is (Continued)

There are two doors in each of us as well, one facing hell and open to evil and false things from hell, the other facing heaven and open to good and true things from heaven. The door of hell is opened for people who are involved in what is evil and its consequent falsity, though just a little light from heaven flows in through the cracks, which enables us to think, reason, and talk. On the other hand, the door of heaven is opened for people who are focused on what is good and therefore on what is true. There are actually two paths that lead to our rational mind, one from above or within, through which the good and the true enter from the Lord, and one from below or outside through which the evil and the false infiltrate from hell. The rational mind itself is at the intersection of these two paths, so to the extent that light from heaven is let in, we are rational; but to the extent that it is not let in, we are not rational even though we seem so to ourselves.

I have mentioned these things so that our correspondence with heaven and with hell may be known. While our rational mind is in the process of being formed, it is responsive to the world of spirits. What is above it belongs to heaven, and what is beneath it belongs to hell. The higher things open, and the lower close against the inflow of evil and falsity, for people who are being readied for heaven; while the lower things open, and the higher close against the inflow of goodness and truth, for people who are being readied for hell. As a result, these latter can only look downward, toward hell, and the former can only look upward, toward heaven. Looking upward is looking toward the Lord, because he is the common center that everything in heaven faces. Looking downward, though, is looking away from the Lord toward the opposite center, the center toward which everything in hell faces and gravitates (see above,Sections 123 and 124).

from Heaven and Hell, Section 430

Notes: Sections 123 and 124 were published November 20,2016 through November 21, 2016.

What the World of Spirits Is (Continued)

Just as the world of spirits is a state halfway between heaven and hell within us, it is a halfway place. The hells are underneath it and the heavens above it.

All the hells are closed on the side that faces that world, accessible only through holes and crevices like those in rocks and through broad gaps that are guarded to prevent anyone from coming out without permission, which happens in cases of real need, as will be discussed later. Heaven too is bounded on all sides, and the only access to any heavenly community is by a narrow way whose entry is also guarded. These exits and entrances are what are called the doors and gates of hell and heaven in the Word.

The world of spirits looks like a valley surrounded by mountains and cliffs, with dips and rises here and there. The doors and gates to heavenly communities are visible only to people who are being readied for heaven. No one else finds them. There is one entrance to each community from the world of spirits with a single path beyond it; but as the path climbs, it divides into several.

The doors and gates to the hells are visible only to the people who are going to enter them. They open for them, and once they are opened you can see dark, sooty caves slanting downward into the depths, where there are still more gates. Rank, foul stenches breathe out from them, stenches that good spirits flee because they are repelled by them, while evil spirits are drawn toward them because they find them delightful. In fact, just as we find delight in our own evil in this world we find delight after death in the stench that corresponds to our evil. We might compare this with the delight of carrion birds and beasts like crows and wolves and pigs who fly or run toward rotting corpses as soon as they get wind of them. I heard one man who screamed aloud in utter torment at a breath of air from heaven, but was calm and happy when a breath from hell reached him.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 428, 429

What the World of Spirits Is (Continued)

After we die, just as soon as we arrive in the world of spirits, we are carefully sorted out by the Lord. Evil people are immediately connected with the hellish community their ruling love had affiliated them with in the world, and good people are immediately connected with the heavenly community their love and thoughtfulness and faith had affiliated them with in the world.

Even though we are sorted out in this way, we are still together in that world and can talk to anyone when we want to, to friends and acquaintances from our physical life, especially husbands and wives, and also brothers and sisters. I have seen a father talking with his six sons and recognizing them. I have seen many other people with their relatives and friends. However, since they were of different character because of their life in the world, they parted company after a little while.

However, people who are coming into heaven from the world of spirits and people who are coming into hell do not see each other any more. They do not even recognize each other unless they are of like character because of a likeness in love. The reason they see each other in the world of spirits but not in heaven or hell is that while they are in the world of spirits they are brought into states like the ones they were in during their physical lives, one after another. After a while, though, they settle into a constant state that accords with their ruling love. In this state, mutual recognition comes only from similarity of love, for as we explained above (Sections 41–50), likeness unites and difference separates.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 427

Notes: Sections 41-50 were published May 7 through May 10, 2017.

What the World of Spirits Is (Continued)

To the extent that truths of the intellect are united to good things of the will, then, or to the extent that we intend and therefore do truths, we have heaven within us, because as already noted the union of the good and the true is heaven. However, to the extent that false elements of intellect are united to evil elements of will, we have hell within us, because the union of the false and the evil is hell. Still, to the extent that truths of intellect are not united to good elements of will, we are in the halfway state. Almost all of us nowadays are in a state in which we know things that are true and think about them on the basis of our information and also from our intellect.

We act on either a lot of them or a few of them or none of them or act contrary to them because of our love of evil and consequent trust in what is false. So in order that we may gain either heaven or hell, after death we are first taken to the world of spirits, where either the union of the good and the true takes place for people who are to be raised into heaven, or the union of the evil and the false for people who are to be cast into hell. This is because no one in heaven or in hell is allowed to have a divided mind, to understand one thing and intend something else.

What we intend we understand and what we understand we intend. Consequently, anyone in heaven who intends what is good understands what is true, and anyone in hell who intends what is evil understands what is false. So for good people, the false elements are taken away and they are given truths suited and fitted to their virtue, while for evil people truths are taken away and they are given false elements suited and fitted to their vice. This enables us to see what the world of spirits is.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 425

What the World of Spirits Is (Continued)

Our ability to think from our intellect and not at the same time from our will is provided us so that we can be reformed, for we are reformed by means of truths; and truths, as already noted, are matters of intellect. We are actually born into total evil as far as our wills are concerned, wishing well to no one but ourselves; if we wish well to ourselves alone, we are delighted when harm comes to others, especially when it is to our advantage. We actually want to channel everyone else’s assets to ourselves, whether those assets are high rank or wealth, and are happy to the extent that we succeed.

To correct and reform this kind of intent, we are given the ability to understand things that are true and to use them to control the evil urges that well up from our will. This is why we can think true things from our intellect and talk about them and do them even though we cannot think them from our will until we have changed in nature so that on our own, that is, from the heart, we intend them and do them. When we have this nature, then the things we think from our intellect are matters of our faith and the things we think from our will are matters of our love. This means that faith and love are now united within us, just as intellect and will are.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 424

What the World of Spirits Is (Continued)

First I need to say something about the union of intellect and will and its resemblance to the union of the good and the true, because this union does take place in the world of spirits. Each of us has an intellect and a will, the intellect being open to truths and formed from them and the will being open to things that are good and formed from them. So whatever we understand and therefore think, we call true; and whatever we intend and therefore think, we call good. We are capable of thinking from our intellect and thus observing what is true and also what is good, but we still do not think from our will unless we intend and do it.

When we intend it and do it intentionally, then it is in both our intellect and our will and therefore in us. This is because the intellect alone is not what makes a person, nor the will alone, but the intellect and the will together. This means that anything that is in both intellect and will is in us and is therefore attributed to us. Whatever is only in the intellect is associated with us but is not in us. It is only a matter of our memory, an item of information in our memory that we can think about when we are not in private but are with other people. So it is something we can talk and argue about and even something we can imitate with our affections and behavior.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 423

What the World of Spirits Is

THE world of spirits is neither heaven nor hell but a place or state between the two. It is where we first arrive after death, being in due time either raised into heaven or cast into hell from it depending on our life in this world.

The world of spirits is a place halfway between heaven and hell, and it is also our own halfway state after death. I have been shown that it is a halfway place by seeing that the hells were underneath it and the heavens above it, and that it is a halfway state by learning that as long as we are in it, we are not yet in either heaven or hell.

A state of heaven for us is the union of what is good and true within us, and a state of hell is a union of what is evil and false within us. When the good in a spirit-person is united to the true, then that individual arrives in heaven, because as already stated that union is heaven within us. On the other hand, when the evil is united to the false within us, then we arrive in hell, because that union is hell within us. The process of union takes place in the world of spirits because then we are in a halfway state. It amounts to the same thing whether you say the union of intellect and will or the union of the true and the good.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 421, 422